AI/Machine Learning; Friend or Foe?

Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. These are terms that are increasingly cropping up in many conversations and all already a large part of everyone’s lives whether they currently realise that or not.

Artificial intelligence, also referred to as AI, is a very broad field. It encompasses many different technologies and approaches and that includes machine learning if we look at artificial intelligence at a high level its goal is to build systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human like intelligence to complete that’s tasks like understanding natural language recognizing patterns making decisions solving problems all of which can have a very significant positive impact.

The term machine learning often gets confused as another name for artificial intelligence generally however machine learning is actually only one type of artificial intelligence. Machine learning focuses on building systems by Learning from data those systems being able to improve their performance over time by learning from the data they receive as input so for those of you that were of a certain vintage and would remember the film short circuit from the 1980s, input is very important to your machine for it to learn.

The story in the film short circuit, has a central character called Number 5, a humanoid looking robot who becomes sentient and is rescued from destruction.

For the longest time humans have been concerned about the rise of the machine; but are those fears legitimate? That is still very much up for debate.

I look at artificial intelligence and machine learning through an optimistic lens. Being involved in technology for over 40 years now, for me it has always been life enhancing not life replacing, and like many things, the more you understand the less you fear and the more control you have.

The conclusion I therefore draw is that AI and machine learning are our friends. The foes are the humans who would use this amazing technology to exploit or hurt others and that is where I think we should focus our attention.

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